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The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals  
Author Charles Darwin
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject(s) Emotion
Publisher John Murray
Publication date 1872

The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals is a book by the British naturalist Charles Darwin published in 1872, on how humans and non-human animals[1] express their emotions. It was, along with his 1871 book The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, part of Darwin's attempt to address questions of human origins and human psychology using his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Figure 21, "Horror and Agony", from a photograph by Guillaume Duchenne (more images)

When writing The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication in 1866, Darwin intended to include a chapter including man in his theory, but the book became too big and he decided to write a separate "short essay" on ape ancestry, sexual selection and human expression which became two large volumes in The Descent of Man. After completing work on the proofs of The Descent of Man in January 1871, Darwin started on another book, using left over material on emotional expressions.

Darwin noted the universal nature of facial expressions in the book: "...the young and the old of widely different races, both with man and animals, express the same state of mind by the same movements." Darwin was diverted into making extensive revisions to the Origin of Species, then in the spring of 1872 he pressed on with The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, pointing to shared evolution in contrast to Charles Bell's Anatomy and Physiology of Expression which claimed divinely created muscles to express man's exquisite feelings. (Darwin had listened to a similar critique of Bell's opinions delivered by the phrenologist William A.F. Browne in December 1826 when both were medical students at Edinburgh). Darwin drew on world wide responses to his questionnaires, hundreds of photographs of actors and babies and of psychiatric patients in the West Riding Lunatic Asylum at Wakefield (with the agreement and collaboration of W.A.F. Browne's son James Crichton-Browne, the Victorian psychiatrist and photographer to whom Darwin remarked that the book "should be called by Darwin and Browne"), as well as his personal observations of the symptoms of loss and emotional trauma. Darwin concluded work on the book on 22nd August 1872 with a sense of relief. The shocking attacks on his work by St George Mivart in the early months of 1872 had coincided with a severe aggravation of Darwin's mysterious symptoms; but the intervention of Thomas HenryHuxley (then on holiday in St Andrews) and Darwin's continuing exchange of views with Crichton-Browne seems to have encouraged a resolution to the symptoms as he brought this important work on self-expression to a conclusion.

Figure 4: "A small dog watching a cat on a table", made from a photograph by Oscar Gustave Rejlander

The proofs, tackled by his daughter Henrietta and son Leo, needed major revision which made him "sick of the subject, and myself, and the world". It was to be one of the first books with photographs, with seven heliotype plates, and Murray warned that this "would poke a terrible hole in the profits". The published book served as a remarkable compilation of illustrations - not unlike a Victorian family album - with engravings of the Darwin family's pet cats and dogs, photographs by the unusual Oscar Rejlander (1813-1875) ("of Victoria Street, London"), and ilustrative quotations from the "Mecanisme de la Physionomie Humaine - Analyse Electro-Physiologique de L'Expression des Passions" by the eminent French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne (1806-1875). This style of lavish scientific illustration was to be imitated in works on animal locomotion by Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) and James Bell Pettigrew (1832-1908); and in D'Arcy Thompson's masterpiece On Growth and Form (1917). Darwin's biological interpretation of emotion was to prove something of a dead-end for a century or so, with a few distinguished exceptions including Walter Cannon's Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage (1915). It is, perhaps, worth noting that Freud's Interpretation of Dreams (1900), a work which lingered on the visual presentation of mental processes, contained no illustrations; Darwin wrote nothing on dreams. The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals proved very popular, selling over 5,000 copies.

A second edition was published by Darwin's son around 1889. It did not contain several revisions wanted by Darwin, which were not published until the third edition of 1999 (edited by Paul Ekman).[2]

Although Konrad Lorenz in 1965 said Darwin could be seen as a "patron saint" of ethology based on this work, ethology has generally focused on behavior, not on emotion.[2]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Largely birds and mammals
  2. ^ a b Black, J (Jun 2002), "Darwin in the world of emotions" (Free full text), Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 95 (6): 311–3, ISSN 0141-0768, PMID 12042386, PMC 1279921, http://www.jrsm.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=12042386 

External links

Free e-book versions available on the internet:

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